Telemedicine is on the rise and although it may appear to distance a patient from his or her physician, in reality, it is doing just the opposite. It actually might help turn a disjointed, impersonal, chaotic system into one that is integrated, personal and streamlined. Here’s how telemedicine is changing healthcare…
Telemedicine is the remote treatment and diagnosis of patients through telecommunications and electronic technologies. It can be used to conduct consultations and monitor vital signs, treatment adherence, and even proactive care. It is showing strong promise for conditions that benefit from continuous monitoring like diabetes, sleep apnea and hypertension. It also assists with faster diagnosis and treatment for stroke victims, allowing for a better chance of survival. Of course, telemedicine is a no-brainer for patients who require mental health treatment since much of the work is done through talking anyway.
Better Patient Access – Providers are able to see more patients virtually than they can in person, so wait times are reduced. Plus, people who live in rural areas and have less access to quality care are able to get the care they need through telemedicine. It is also more convenient for patients who are too ill to travel to a hospital or doctor’s office.
Better Care – By monitoring a patient essentially 24/7 using telemedicine technology, providers are able to keep a better watch on their patients to know when it is necessary to step in. Telemedicine removes the impersonal relationship patients have with their physicians because they are able to stay in contact more often and physicians can learn about a patient more intimately.
Reduced Costs – There are many cases in which an in-person visit is just not necessary, and conducting a consultation over a web cam or phone can greatly reduce the cost of a doctor appointment.
Better Care Management – As mentioned above, telemedicine makes it possible for the patient and provider to stay in touch on a daily basis so that treatment programs, progress and issues can be monitored more carefully and precisely.
More Efficient Decision-Making – When providers are presented with the amount of data they can get from telemedicine, they are able to make more informed decisions about diagnosis and treatment for their patients.
Better Efficiency in Complex Conditions – It has been extremely difficult to manage the health of people with chronic conditions who really require round-the-clock monitoring. Telemedicine makes that constant monitoring possible so that treatments can be more effective.
Allows Patients to be Discharged to the Home – Instead of being discharged to a facility who can monitor a patient around-the-clock, telemedicine makes it possible for many patients to be discharged to their home and then be monitored remotely.
Better Patient Compliance – Patients have pointed out that they find it easier to send and receive information with their doctors using technology rather than paper. Plus, they are more willing to comply when they know their providers will know if they are following their treatments plans. This encourages patients to participate in healthy lifestyle choices like exercise, nutrition, taking medication, refilling prescriptions and remembering appointments.
Reduces ER Visits – With the ACA’s goals of cutting down on emergency room visits, telemedicine can certainly help reduce some of those visits through its convenience and effectiveness.